November 7, 2009

Republican Rationing Rhetoric

One Republican Representative during the grand House debate on the reform bill today just spoke of going fishing not long ago with his 82-yr old father, who recently had triple-bypass surgery.

Having asserted that reform is trying to make American health care like Canadian and British health care, he concluded that under the coming reform he might not have been able to go fishing with his father if his father had faced a system like this, like British health care.

He finished with a crescendo against "rationing," etc.

There's a problem with this line of argument.

1. There is no rationing anywhere in reform, nor any mechanism that would allow it.

While there is no rationing scheme anywhere in proposed legislation, the most plausible assertion about rationing is that the IMAC panel, which suggests reforms for Medicare, could potentially suggest some sort of rationing scheme someday. But, the legislation explicitly forbids IMAC from even considering rationing. Rationing is disallowed. It's not in sight. It's not on the horizon.

I wrote a scathing post against rationing here months ago.

Rationing: A failure of Knowledge...

A few weeks later I had a lengthy discussion with a very skeptical ideologue about whether and how there could be any rationing. Finally, rationing via IMAC proposals was his most plausible scenario.

But then Congress explicitly prohibited IMAC from considering rationing in its legislation.

So not only is there no rationing proposed, it is even prohibited for future consideration.

2. The British system actually is nationalized health care, where the government owns most hospitals and employs most doctors.

Nothing remotely like that is anywhere in this reform.

Hospitals and doctors remain private, as now.

Neither is single payer in this reform. Nor is there a slippery slope towards single payer. Analytic experts believe this form of "level-playing-field" public option has little chance of crowding out private insurers if such insurers choose to be efficient.

Essentially the problem with Republican rhetoric is they are arguing against stuff that isn't there, just like before with the "death panels."

It hasn't changed. They are still arguing against imaginary stuff that isn't there.

Republicans would be doing great if the things they are arguing against were actually in the legislation!!

If we faced actual socialism, they would be doing a fine job defending us against it.

Instead, many Republicans currently are like Don Quixote, full of passion, seeing dangers everywhere and tilting their lances at windmills.

Will this matter?

Can't Republicans just argue against straw men, imaginary reform, that isn't in the legislation?

I think that's actually an open question. This is the age of the Internet.

Bloggers, both individual and those associated with major news sites, can just paste the videotaped comments of representatives in a blog post and then lay open the distortions, lies or incompetence...and more and more people are looking to see such reporting...

I think Republicans can get away with this practice less and less.

Non-ideological bloggers like yours truly will pin them to the wall.


Because I believe in America.

See, I know that a national drift towards defamatory ideological rhetoric is far more dangerous to America than more government regulation of health insurance.

The danger in such speech is its corrosion of the national character.

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